I used to keep a note taped above my desk that said, “Don’t confuse excitement (temporary) with passion (commitment).”
I am a real sucker for novelty, and I tend to get caught up in the whirlwind of excitement that surrounds new ideas and pursuits. I put the reminder on a 4×6 slip of paper in sharpie marker when I realized that I had a tendency to chuck the old for the new, essentially cheating on my true love for the sake of a fleeting thrill.
It was a lot like any other infidelity. I’d begin to miss the writing, and I’d sheepishly return to it, hoping I’d be able to pick up where I left off. But it wasn’t that easy to re-establish the connection. It’s as if the words held a grudge and wouldn’t talk to me for a while. I spent a lot of time in acts of creative contrition, making up for being unfaithful to and neglectful of my writing.
Once I learned to recognize these two types of interest in things, I was better able to make decisions about how I want to spend my time. Of course, I still have other interests besides writing. I have my relationships with people that I nurture, and I enjoy cooking, sailing, hiking and yoga. And some of these activities have even become a regular part of my life. But I made a commitment to my writing because I recognized that I was passionate about it in a way that I could neither explain nor deny. I had to start seeing myself and my writing as one.
Essentially, I married writing and kept the other activities as friends.
I took the note down a few months ago when I moved across the country. I don’t need it any more. Having the reminder there for all that time helped me internalize its message, though, and keep me faithful to the one I love best.